Did you know that the Book of Esther read every year on the holiday of Purim (Thursday March 8), is the only book in the entire Bible in which a reference to God is not made even once? Why?
Reading through the narrative, we discover another most interesting fact. Throughout the entire story we find precious little that we can even identify as miraculous. In fact, most of it seems to be quite coincidental, as though it were the work of a novelist, with all loose ends eventually coming together.
The tale opens with the death of Queen Vashti, and King Ahasuerus (Xerxes of Persia) choosing Esther - her Jewish lineage unbeknown to the king, as his new wife. Soon after, we read of a Jewish sage and royal advisor named Mordechai, and his foiling of a plot to assassinate the king. This is followed by the meteoric rise to power of a virulent anti-Semite named Haman. Through Haman’s subsequent scheme to annihilate the Jews, the king discovers that Esther was in fact Jewish and that Haman’s plan would have included her, as well as Mordechai, his onetime savior.
Thus miraculously the tables are turned. The hunter becomes the hunted and the tyrant is eliminated by the very noose he prepared for the now victor.
It is a wonderful story by any measure, but a great miracle? Hardly! No sea splitting or manna falling from heaven here. No oil lasting for eight days, nor were any firstborns smitten. All we have is one coincidental occurrence after another.
Yet that is precisely what makes the story of Purim so special.
Shtetel Themed Community Purim Party
Thursday, March 8, 5:30 p.m. at The Reston Community Center Hunters Woods, 2310 Colts Neck Road in Reston.
Delicious buffet dinner including classic "traditional dishes."
Megillah reading with a Simultaneous Slide Show of The Purim Story. Visit the Shtetl Bakery and make Hamantashen; the Pickle Place and make your own pickles. Hamantashen, Graggers and more! Masquerade in your favorite Shtetl or other Purim Attire. Prizes for all children in costume.
Celebrate the four Mitzvot of Purim. Hear the Megillah. Enjoy a Party. Food basket sharing. Giving charity. All under one roof!
Cost: Adult $20. Child $12. Family Cap $65. Evening Sponsor $180. RSVP to Rabbi@chabadrh.org.
Take a look at the world around you. Everything seems so "normal." The sun rises every morning in the east, and sets in the west at dusk. Trees and plants grow when they are properly tended to, and will wither and die when neglected.
All this, and much more, is what we have come to regard as nature. Yet, like everything else in the world, nature, too, was created by God. Nature is God’s most incredible miracle. By waking up every morning, we experience this most miraculous event ourselves – the miracle of life.
So although we do not feel the Godliness or the miracle in it all, it is there nonetheless.
In fact, the very name of this book we speak of, "Megillat Esther," makes this point. The name "Esther" translates as "hidden." The true miracle of Purim, as well as that of our daily lives, remains hidden. It is up to us to peel back the veneer, to reveal the miracle within the mundane. And that is perhaps the greatest miracle of all.
My friends, this choice of perspectives presents itself every day of our lives. We must ask ourselves, will we recognize God's presence and gifts in our lives or will we attribute every event to luck, coincidence, and our own brilliance? The miracles happen. How we interpret them is entirely our choice.
For all Purim related questions and information visit www.chabadrh.org/purim
Rabbi Fajnland can be reached at Rabbi@chabadrh.org